LibriVox recording of The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. Read by Tom Weiss.
It is the end of the 19th century. Like thousands of others, the Rudkus family has emigrated from Lithuania to America in search of a better life. As they settle into the Packingtown neighborhood of Chicago, they find their dreams are unlikely to be realized. In fact, just the opposite is quite likely to occur. Jurgis, the main character of the novel, has brought his father Antanas, his fiancée Ona, her stepmother Teta Elzbieta, Teta Elzbieta's brother Jonas and her six children, and Ona's cousin Marija Berczynskas along. The family, naïve to the ways of Chicago, quickly falls prey to con men and makes a series of bad decisions that lead them into wretched poverty and terrible living conditions. All are forced to find jobs in dismal working conditions for their very survival. Jurgis, broken and discouraged, eventually finds solace in the American Socialist movement.
This novel was written during a period in American history when “Trusts” were formed by multiple corporations to establish monopolies that stifled competition and fixed prices. Unthinkable working conditions and unfair business practices were the norm. The Jungle’s author, Upton Sinclair, was an ardent Socialist of the time. Sinclair was commissioned by the “Appeal To Reason”, a Socialist journal of the period, to write a fictional expose on the working conditions of the immigrant laborers in the meat packing industry in Chicago. Going undercover, Sinclair spent seven weeks inside the meatpacking plants gathering details for his novel.
The Reader wishes to gratefully acknowledge the assistance, and patience, of Professor Giedrius Subacius (University of Illinois) and the folks at Lituanus (www.lituanus.org) for their invaluable support as I struggled with Lithuanian pronunciations. Truly, this audio book would have been far more difficult, and far less authentic, without their help.
And now, feel free to wander into The Jungle…….(Summary by Tom Weiss)
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August 9, 2020 Subject:
Very good recording of a very interesting book
In case this interests anyone, the July 20, 2020 issue of The New Yorker has an article "Back to the Jungle" by Jane Mayer about the effects of covid-19 on meat processing plants due to the removal of legislation designed to protect workers. There is a reference in the article about how the U.S. is going back to the meat packing environment that existed in the 1900's.
June 22, 2018 Subject:
Fascinating book, an allegory based on reality. The ending is a big letdown. Superbly read by Tom Weiss.
October 28, 2015 Subject:
A Troubling Work, Most Because it Hints at the Future as Much as Remembers the Past
The narrator does a good job of letting the words speak for themselves without interposing any colorations of his own.
February 26, 2011 Subject:
A very good reading
Tom Weiss does a nice job throughout this reading. I was worried at first with the overly formal tone of the reading but quickly came to appreciate it; it works well for a book like this being almost entirely exposition.
Reviewer:Big Ron C
September 1, 2010 Subject:
This is great novel. It's a condemnation of the working conditions endured a hundred years ago before the advent of unions, worker's rights and decent labor legislation. It scares me to think that it might also be a vision of the future the way things have been going lately. When listening to this, remember, even though it's fiction, it's based entirely on fact. With that in mind be prepared for a gut wrenching emotional experience as Tom Weiss's marvelous, top-notch job with the reading really brings it all to life.